On umbilical cords and feeling at home

Before delving into this week’s topicsome good news: I got a Facebook scholarship to participate in the Journalism Creators Program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY! This means that I’ll spend the next 100 days studying how to make this platform sustainable, together with an amazing cohort of international journalists. There’s an extra twist: Nikolia, a member of this community, shared the link with me to apply! What’s exciting is that this platform, made possible by your support, has been recognised for its great potential. I’m tempted to add another exclamation mark but I’ll spare you. In the meantime, thanks, once again.

I’ve been thinking about home since a chat I had with Najuan, a Palestinian member of this community. She told me she’d felt at ease living in The Netherlands, where her partner is from, until she became a mother. Then she started sensing the weight of what in Arabic is Il-ghurbe, living in a foreign land or away from your homeland. She felt lost, isolated and insecure.

As I heard Najuan speak, I knew what she was talking about. I gave birth to Lorenzo in Italy, my home country, speaking my native language. Afterwards, I started feeling foreign in my own body. My belly was suddenly empty but huge and flabby. My boobs were swollen and leaky. I often felt insecure and lonely. Could I go for a walk by myself? Could I tell an editor I wasn’t sure I could appear live on television, because my son now depended on me? I had witnessed how the umbilical cord had officially separated Lorenzo from my body, but I remained my son’s home for many months to come. Every time Lorenzo stirred, I woke up or jumped out of my chair. If I was away from him for longer than a couple of hours, a magnetic force would require me to drop everything I was doing (an important work dinner, a conference) so that he could empty my breasts again. I could feel his tears from kilometres away. My body was not mine anymore, even if the umbil…

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